Private View held by Richard Andrews
Wallace & Gromit Present…A World Of Cracking Ideas is a new interactive experience telling the story of invention and innovation. Britain's best known inventor (and his equally resourceful companion) guide visitors through a world of innovation to discover how simple ideas can transform into life changing devices. Created in collaboration with Aardman Animations and the Intellectual Property Office, the exhibition is designed to inspire a new generation of British innovators. Visitors go on a tour through 62 West Wallaby Street, the famous home of Wallace & Gromit, from the kitchen to the garden shed, taking in some of Britain's first ever real inventions to be awarded patents, alongside Wallace's own 'cracking contraptions' such as the Tellyscope, the Piella Propellor, Techno-trousers and the Blend-o-matic. Each room in the house looks at a different aspect of the thinking process behind ideas, and shows visitors how they can protect their intellectual property through patents, trademarks, designs and copyright, ensuring that they derive maximum value from their inventions. Visitors inspired by the exhibition can come up with their own creative ideas, which they can jot down and leave at 'Ideas Stations' located in the Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, Bathroom, Workshop and Garden. Visitors' ideas will also be used to power Wallace's new 3m high contraption called The Thinking Cap Machine. The Science Museum until 1st November.
Fatal Attraction: Diana And Actaeon - The Forbidden Gaze focuses on works relating to the mythical tale of Diana and Actaeon, which has provided a rich source of inspiration for artists through the centuries. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, the noble hunter Actaeon inadvertently encounters the goddess Diana bathing. As a punishment for catching this glimpse, he is transformed into a stag by Diana, and is consequently hunted down and killed by his own hounds. This exhibition explores how the myth has been portrayed in many ways by the visions of different artists, in forms from painting and photography to ceramics and sculpture, from antiquity to the present day. It features works by artists including Titian, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Gustav Klimt, Degas, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, Rubens, Hans Bellmer, Paolo Vernonese, Albrecht Durer, Charles Joseph Natoire, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marlene Dumas, Delacroix, Karen Knoor, Gregory Crewdson, William Etty, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Thomas Ruff, Pierre Klossowski and John Currin. Compton Verney, Warwickshire, until 31st May.
Sickert In Venice is devoted to the paintings of Venice made by Walter Richard Sickert, who became known as the father of modern British art, after introducing Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to a younger generation of British painters. Having trained under James McNeill Whistler, Sickert made repeated visits to Venice from 1895 onwards, as the city became the dominant subject of his art, creating some of his most ravishing impressionist work. Initially Sickert painted many scenes of Venetian architecture, including landmarks such St Mark's Basilica and the Rialto Bridge. On subsequent visits, Sickert moved the object of his attention first into alleyways, and then indoors, experimenting with the concept of ambiguous figures in interiors. Through his pairing of female figures, such as the Venetian prostitutes La Giuseppina and La Carolina, sometimes dressed, sometimes nude, Sickert discovered an approach to the subject that formed the basis of his art for the remainder of his career.
Veronese: The Petrobelli Altarpiece brings together for the first time since the 1780s, the four known, surviving pieces of one of the largest altarpieces ever produced in Italy during the 16th century. Over 5m high, the altarpiece was originally painted around 1565 by Paolo Veronese for Antonio and Girolamo Petrobelli, and it resided in their family chapel, San Francesco at Lendinara, until 1785, when the church and convent were closed down and destroyed. The painting was cut up and sold in pieces, described at the time as being 'sold in quarters, as one does with butcher's meat'. This exhibition reunites a newly discovered fragment of the central section together with the three known parts, but the whereabouts of the rest of this piece remain a mystery.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, Sickert until 31st May - Veronese until 3rd May.
George Scharf: From Regency Street To The Modern Metropolis is the first exhibition devoted solely to the work of George Scharf, the artist and illustrator who has been described as the pictorial equivalent of the literary chronicler of early Victorian London, Charles Dickens. Scharf studied in Munich and became an expert in lithographic printing and miniature portrait painting. He settled in London in 1816, at a time when the capital was undergoing a dramatic expansion, and spent the rest of his life in the city. The rapidly changing face of early Victorian London is depicted in this exhibition through some 60 works. Scharf's vivid, detailed drawings capture every aspect of ordinary life, showing people going about their daily business in fine detail - from the boots on their feet to the buttons on their coats and the hats on their heads - recorded with an immediacy that is almost photographic. Not only do the pictures offer an interesting insight into London's inhabitants, Scharf also precisely recreates the architectural landscape of the city. His work combines a sensitive observation of the individuals in the pictures with architectural accuracy to give a full picture of the city and its people as he saw it. In the 1820s and 1830s London experienced a huge growth in what would now be described as 'consumer culture' and Scharf's pictures depict the advertising hoardings and shop signs that started to appear all around the city. They also reflect how society changed, with the introduction of gas lighting, which made the streets safer, and meant that London could start to develop a nightlife, leading to the opening of the first music halls. Sir John Soane Museum, London until 6th June.
Changing Faces: Anthony Van Dyck As An Etcher features rarely seen portrait etchings, executed prior to the Flemish artist's arrival in London in 1632. In a series known as 'Iconography', van Dyck produced a collection of uniform portrait prints of distinguished contemporaries, after his own designs. With the exceptions of Erasmus and the diplomat Philippe de Roy, the portraits are all of Flemish artists of van Dyck's generation or the preceding one, together with his printmaking collaborators, engravers Lucas Vorsterman and Paulus Pontius. Taking his cue from portraiture of the Renaissance, through their physical poses, expressions and attire, his fellow artists are portrayed as distinguished, dignified and learned men, rather than ordinary craftsman. The compositions relate to the sitter's talents and specialities, such as Joos de Momper gesturing towards a mountainous backdrop, in recognition of his reputation for painting mountain ranges. Although few in number, they are among the most striking examples of the etching technique. Under van Dyck's direction, and also after his death, other printmakers built up the compositions with engraved lines. The development of the portraits is revealed by impressions of the pure etchings next to later states. To complement the etchings, the exhibition also includes drawings by van Dyck, Joos de Momper, Jan Breughel the Elder and Frans Snyders. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 17th May.
Annette Messager: The Messengers is the first British retrospective of the contemporary European artist Annette Messager. The exhibition presents a panoramic survey from the intimate and conceptually driven pieces Messager made in the early 1970s, to the very large sculptural installations of the past 15 years, in which movement plays an increasingly important role. It reveals her use of an astonishing repertoire of forms and materials, among them soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, wool, photographs, text and drawings. Many of Messager's art pieces are inspired by dreams, often reinventing the monsters of her childhood nightmares, each installation playing on the contradictions of an enclosed space being a shelter and a prison to an altogether unnerving degree. Highlights include a recreation of 'Casino', the installation that won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2005, where visitors walk into a strange and furtive world of mechanical puppets and pallid apparitions bobbing on a crimson sea, inspired by Pinocchio and all the creepy allusions that malevolent fairytale throws up; 'My Trophies', where painting is added to blown up black and white photographs of parts of the human body; 'Collection Album', which conjures up the private rituals developed by women in response to living in a male dominated culture; and 'My Wishes', in which tiny photographs of body parts are hung by string from the wall to form an elegant votive-like display. Hayward Gallery until 25th May.
Theatre And Performance Galleries are new spaces displaying some 250 highlights from the collection of the former Theatre Museum in Covent Garden, the largest collection of its type in the world. They show the history, development and practice of the performing arts in Britain over the last 350 years, embracing drama, dance, opera, musical theatre, circus, rock and pop and popular entertainment. The galleries focus on the process of performance, from the initial concept, through the design and development stages, to audiences' reactions. Arranged in three main themes - creating performance, staging performance and experiencing performance - the displays include costumes, set models, stage props, original posters and playbills, theatrical prints, paintings, archive footage and photographs. The objects range in size from stage machinery and architecture, through to theatre tickets and tokens, including a 1623 first folio of Shakespeare's plays; the only known Handel prompt book produced during his lifetime; an early draft manuscript of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy The School For Scandal; an original 1957 poster for Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre; the 1971 score for Jesus Christ Superstar, marked with alterations made by the musical director during rehearsals; a guitar Pete Townshend smashed during a 1970s performance with The Who; and costumes worn by performers such as Richard Burton, Margot Fonteyn, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. A specially commissioned film features interviews with playwright Michael Frayn, directors Peter Hall and Peter Brook, actor Henry Goodman, and ballet director Monica Mason. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions, which is currently hosting a collection of theatre photographs by Reg Wilson. Victoria & Albert Museum, continuing.
George Always - Portraits Of George Melly By Maggi Hambling sees the many facets of 'Good Time George' - jazz performer, surrealist, comic, raconteur, critic and author - as captured by his great friend, the contemporary artist Maggi Hambling. The exotic nature of her subject has inspired a rich, compelling celebration in works that are being shown together for the first time. The exhibition includes the last portraits of Melly before his death in July 2007, as well as a series that Hambling has painted since, from memory and imagination. Her responses in paint to his death are far from morbid, but are tender, challenging, serious and funny. These highly original and imaginative portraits confront the question of death head on. Melly, whose energetic stage presence apparently inspired the young Mick Jagger, is portrayed singing, joking, drinking and laughing. The exhibition comprises 29 works, including Hambling's 1998 triple portrait, ink drawings from life, oil paintings executed during Melly's final days, 'George Always, I' and 'George Always, II' painted since his death, and a new waterfall triptych, inspired by Melly's favourite colours, making their public debut. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, until 31st May.
Wycinanki: The Art Of Polish Paper Cuts explores the traditional Polish folk art of cutting paper into intricate pictures and patterns. Wycinanki were traditionally used by Polish peasants from the mid 19th century onwards to decorate their cottages, and they often depicted scenes from daily life, such as weddings or holidays. They have become valuable documents of social history showing a disappearing way of life, such as one depicting peasant women using traditional flax brakes to make linen, a practice that has now died out. Wycinanki were generally made by women using sheep-shearing scissors and any readily available paper, and were replaced each spring when homes were whitewashed. With the advent of communism, Wycinanki were promoted as an example of non-bourgeois art, and enjoyed enormous popularity along with other forms of folk art. They are still popular and widely practised in two regions of Poland: Lowicz, where they are multi-coloured and made from multiple sheets, and Kurpie, where they are cut from a single sheet of coloured paper. The exhibition comprises some 50 diverse examples of decorative paper cuts, featuring geometric designs, scenes from rural life, and religious symbols, from the 1950s to the present day, including specially commissioned pieces by Apolonia Nowaka, Czeslawa Kaczynska and Helena Miazek. Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, London, until 27th September.
Darwin is a celebration of the man and his revolutionary theory that changed that changed man's understanding of the world and his place within it. The exhibition retraces Darwin's life changing journey as a young man aboard the HMS Beagle on its 5 year voyage around the world. It contains the clues that helped him develop the idea of evolution by natural selection through notebooks, artefacts, rare personal belongings, and the fossils and zoological specimens he collected on his travels. The objects on display, coupled with illuminating text and films, reveal the patterns Darwin observed among animals that provided the evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection, and led to the publication of On The Origin Of Species. These include live green iguanas and horned frogs from South America, together with mounted specimens of the animals and birds he saw on his journey, such as sloths, rheas, armadillos and mockingbirds. There is also a reconstruction of Darwin's study at Down House, where he refined his theory, which includes an original handwritten page from On The Origin Of Species, together with family photographs and love letters, and a box filled with shells and family keepsakes, which show a different side to the scientist, as a family man, husband and father of 10 children. The exhibition concludes with an exploration of modern evolutionary biology, and the importance of evolution in understanding how infectious disease causing organisms keep changing as we attempt to control their spread. Natural History Museum until 19th April.
Beside The Seaside: Snapshots Of British Coastal Life 1880 - 1950 brings together photographs, posters and seaside memorabilia to capture the essence of both working life and early tourism along the British coast. From dramatic rugged coastlines and idyllic fishing villages to sea bathing, promenades and donkey rides, the popularity of the seaside has led to its enduring status as a quintessential British experience. The exhibition both highlights the British seaside holiday, and explores a diversity of activities along the British coast. Following the advent of the railways in the mid 19th century, quiet coastal settlements and towns such as Eastbourne and Scarborough were transformed into thriving holiday destinations, where beaches, piers, promenades and hotels were developed to cater for a range of tastes and budgets. Photographs range from fashionable Edwardians relaxing under parasols by the sea, and crowds of visitors enjoying the sunny piers and bustling promenades of popular holiday resorts, to fisherman sorting through the day's catch, rows of fishing trawlers returned to port, and a cockle picker mid hunt. The exhibition draws heavily on images made by Francis Frith, a pioneering Victorian photographer, whose passion for photography and travel led to him found what eventually became the largest photographic publishing company in the world. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, until 19th April.
Andrea Palladio: His Life And Legacy is the first exhibition devoted to the legendary architect to be held in London in a generation, and celebrates the quincentenary of his birth. Andrea Palladio was not only one of the greatest Italian architects, he was also a practitioner whose work has continued to resonate down the centuries. Active in Vicenza, Venice and the Veneto region, he crafted a new architectural language, derived from classical sources, yet shaped to fulfill the functional demands and aesthetic aspirations of his own age. While Palladio's impressive oeuvre includes private and public buildings and churches, it is his town palaces and country villas that influenced subsequent generations of European and American architects. Large scale models, computer animations, original drawings, books and paintings present the full range of this exceptional architect's output and his legacy, demonstrating why Palladio's name has been synonymous with architecture for 500 years. The exhibition follows his career from the Basilica, his early palaces in Vicenza, and his innovative solutions to rural buildings, such as the Villa Poiana and the Villa Barbaro at Maser, to his great Venetian churches, culminating in the Villa Rotunda. However, Palladio's fame and influence rested not only on his executed buildings, but on his 'Four Books of Architecture', in which he illustrated the basic grammar and vocabulary of architecture, his reconstructions of classical buildings, and also his unbuilt projects. These designs became models for new constructions throughout the world, particularly in Britain, when they were brought here by Inigo Jones. Royal Academy of Arts until 13th April.